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Catching swans and cracking on

This month our guest blog comes from the thin blue line and one of the UK's finest - @IBD_PC:

We understand from your Twitter handle that you are a police officer with a stoma - whats your story?

Hi! Yes I'm a Police Officer in the UK and I've had a battle with Ulcerative Colitis which is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease which ultimately resulted in an operation called a Panproctocolectomy which removed my entire Large Intestine and Rectum and constructed an Ileostomy which is an opening in my abdomen through which food waste passes and is collected in a bag. I'm still a fully operational front line uniformed Police Officer.

So what made you want to be a police officer?

Seeing Police cars blatting about and wondering what they were going to!! It looked like a fast paced exciting job with a dose of danger. I was always someone who would stop and help, and not walk by minding my own business so it made sense as a career!

How long have you had your ‘bag’ for?

Since early summer 2018, so at the time of writing this its still fairly fresh. I've got used to it very quickly and its just part of my life now. Part of my routine.

What has that meant for your career as a police officer?

There was a pause for a while when I was too sick to work, and while I was in hospital and recovering following surgery. I was determined that I would get back to work and keep doing the job I love. I’ve had to make adjustments, but I can carry on working. If anything my bag has saved my job. I'm more able now than when I was sick before surgery. So I've got a long career ahead of me hopefully!

How do your colleagues react to you having a bag?

Supportive. I've been frank, open and honest about my situation with colleagues, and in turn people have been matter of fact with me and not shy to ask questions / make jokes. That’s how we deal with things in this job: talk openly and frankly and take this piss out of each other!

So you are still able to do front-line police duties even with an ileostomy?

Yes. I'm fully operational in uniform responding to emergencies and expected to run, fight, jump fences, catch swans and stand guarding scenes of crime for hours on end!

What is it that has enabled you to continue being a front-line officer?

Three things:

1. Determination - I’ve had to work very hard physically and mentally to get to where I am now.

2. Support - "The Job" have been incredibly flexible and have supported me in getting back to the role I wanted.

3. Kit - I couldn’t do this dangerous job without the right protection. I wouldn’t be allowed, and I wouldn’t risk it. That’s where Ostomy Armour come in!

How has your Ostomy Armour helped you with this?

My Armour has meant I can crack on and go into any situation without having to worry about my stoma. I know I'm protected.

Did you buy your ostomy armour or yourself?

My occupational health department have recognised my having a stoma as a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act, and therefore the force have to make "reasonable adjustments" to allow me to do my job. The Superintendent bought my Ostomy Armour for me on his credit card!! He said "A small price to pay to get an officer back on the front line."

How often do you wear your Ostomy Armour?

Every shift. And occasionally out of work if I’m doing something where protection would be a good idea.

Is there anything you can’t do now which you were able to do before?

Nope! In fact I can do more now than I could for the 5 years I was ill.

What’s next for you in life and your career?

For the time being I’m just focusing on enjoying having my health back on track, and getting back to all the things I missed out on when I was ill: eating everything, long walks, family time, and being out and about again at work, helping vulnerable people and bullying baddies!!

Is there a final message you have for other people who might find themselves in a similar situation to you?

Don’t let it hold you back. You will be surprised just what you can do. Check with your doctor before doing anything crazy, and make sure you are protected from injury or hernia. Be bold!

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